Fans at the Islanders football game on Friday night in Kirkland might notice the referees have a new accessory this way: "What's with the blue flags?"
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Washington Officials Association are teaming up to raise the profile of September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month with the "Blue Flags Against Cancer" campaign this week. High school football officials will replace their traditional yellow penalty flags with blue flags during varsity games played throughout the state Sept. 13-15. Blue is prostate cancer's awareness color.
"In most situations, officials want to avoid attention during games, but for three days we want to attract some attention with every penalty that we call," said Todd Stordahl, commissioner of the Washington Officials Association. "We are happy to partner with one of the world's leading cancer centers right in our own back yard."
Stordahl said the campaign is a way for the officials to participate in an activity that will help bring awareness to something that has had an impact on many lives, including some of the officials themselves.
"The Hutchinson Center is proud to partner with the state's high school football officials to build awareness of prostate cancer through Blue Flags Against Cancer. We want to encourage all men to talk with their doctors about appropriate prostate screening," said Pete Nelson, a Hutchinson Center prostate cancer researcher.
According to The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for prostate cancer in the United States, about 242,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and there will be about 28,000 deaths due to the disease this year.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of malignancy found in American men other than skin cancer, and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in men behind lung cancer. One in every six males will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, and one in 36 will die of this disease. More than 2 million men in the United States who have had prostate cancer at some point are alive today.
Men over the age of 40 should talk to their doctors about prostate cancer screening and lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of getting the disease.
The Hutchinson Center has an online guide to healthy living for men that offers advice on diet and screening. It can be found at the following link: http://www.fhcrc.org/en/events/healthy-living/Prostate-Health.html
Editor's note: Information was provided in a press release from the Washington Officials Association.